Mini Gets Serious About Racing, Announces Return To WRC
In the mid-1960s, Mini Cooper S models were the cars to beat at the WRC Monte Carlo Rally. Coopers competed in the rally as early as 1962, and Cooper S models took victory in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Technically speaking, the giant killers won in 1966 as well, but were disqualified for using illegal headlamps. The French judges awarded victory to a Citroën DS that, ironically, also had non-compliant lighting. Mini received much more publicity for the snub than they could have gotten by winning the race, and the British penciled in one more reason to hate the French.
Fast forward a little more than 40 years, and Mini is looking to revive their past glory with the help of Prodrive. Prodrive, who built team cars for Subaru until their withdrawal from WRC competition in 2008, has been workin on a WRC project with Mini since 2009. The car will be based on the Mini Countryman, which utilizes an all-wheel-drive layout powered by a turbocharged 1.6 liter motor. The car will comply with the regulations for the WRC Super2000 class and will begin competition at selected races in 2011. If all goes as planned, Mini / Prodrive will run the full WRC season beginning in 2012.
Prodrive knows a thing or two about building competitive cars, and their goal is to win the WRC title within three years. Prodrive GM, David Richards, was quoted by Carscoop (from a Reuters interview) as saying,”The target is clearly to be competitive from the outset and we have set a target with BMW and Mini of the world title within the next three years.”
Fortune favors the bold, and I wish Mini / Prodrive much success. I can’t wait to start watching them compete in WRC.